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Edna Purviance

Edna Purviance (October 21, 1895 – January 11, 1958) was an American actress during the silent movie era. She was the leading lady in many Charlie Chaplin movies. In a span of eight years, she appeared in over 30 films with Chaplin.

Edna Purviance (pronounced Purr-Vye'-ance) was born in Paradise Valley, Nevada to Louis and Madison Gates Purviance. When she was three, the family moved to Lovelock, Nevada where they assumed ownership of a hotel property. Her parents divorced in 1902, and her mother later married Robert Nurnberger, a German plumber. Growing up, Purviance was a talented pianist. She left Lovelock in 1913, and attended business college in San Francisco.

In 1915, Chaplin was working on his second film with Essanay Studios, working out of Niles, California, one hour southeast of San Francisco. He was looking for a leading lady for A Night Out, and one of his associates noticed Purviance at a Tate's Café in San Francisco and thought she should be cast in the role. Chaplin arranged a meeting with her, and although he was concerned that she might be too serious for comedic roles, she won the job.

Chaplin and Purviance were romantically involved during the making of his Essanay, Mutual, and First National films of 1915-1917. Purviance appeared in 33 of Chaplin's productions, including the 1921 classic The Kid. Her last film with him, A Woman of Paris, was also her first lead role. She went on to appear in two more films: The Sea Gull, also known as A Woman of the Sea — which Chaplin never released — and Education de Prince, a French film released in 1927, just before she retired as an actress. Chaplin kept her on his payroll until her death.

Although she dated Chaplin for a short time while working with him, Purviance married John Squire, a Pan-American Airlines pilot, from 1938 until his death in 1945. Recently, silent black-and-white and color films have been discovered; these show a glimpse into their life together from the late 1930s and early 1940s, and over 40 production stills from her unreleased film The Sea Gull have also come to light.

She died of cancer on January 13, 1958, at the age of 62 (as per her official California death certificate). She is interred in the Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Remained in good standing with Chaplin and remained on his payroll, with periodic bonuses, until her death. Purviance attributed her financial well-being and ability to acquire reliable medical attention in her later years to Chaplin. Chaplin speaks highly of her throughout his autobiography.

She was portrayed by Penelope Ann Miller in the film Chaplin.

Despite the fact that she played Chaplin's leading lady in dozens of films, and more so than any other actress, she does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. However, there exists a petition with hundreds of signatures to get her a star.



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